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Flap over Austrian bell dedicated to Hitler

VIENNA -- Like many others in Austria's countryside, a tower bell above the red-tiled rooftops of Wolfpassing village marks the passing of each hour with an unspectacular "bong." But this bell is unique: It is embossed with a swastika and praise to Adolf Hitler.

Unlike more visible remnants of the Nazi era, the bell was apparently overlooked by official Austria up to now.

Ensconced in the belfry of an ancient castle where it was mounted by fans of the Nazi dictator in 1939, the bell has tolled for nearly 80 years. Austria has acknowledged its complicity in crimes of that era and has been seeking to make amends.

Efforts have focused on identifying relics of that time and ensuring they're removed or put in historical context.

The Wolfpassing bell pays homage to Hitler for his 1938 annexation of Austria, a move supported back then by the vast majority of the nation's citizens.

Said Raimund Fastenbauer, a senior official of Vienna's Jewish community, "I think the best thing would be if the bell disappeared and was buried somewhere." -- AP

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